Elite solidarity, social responsibility, and the contested origins of Britain’s first business schools

M Maclean, Charles Harvey, Tom McGovern, Gareth Shaw

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Abstract

Britain is often depicted as a laggard in management education before the late creation of two graduate business schools in London and Manchester in the mid-1960s triggered the emergence of a new academic sector. According to the dominant narrative, the anachronistic views of Britain’s industrial leaders and disdain of its universities for practical learning constrained developments in the field. Through the lens of elite theory, we offer a reinterpretation of the formation of Britain’s first business schools informed by archival research, suggesting that they arose from an evolutionary process rather than a crucible event. The story of the creation of Britain’s first business schools has never been told from the perspective of elite agency. Our study reveals the emergent managerial elite of the post-war era growing into something altogether more powerful. Our main contribution to theory is to demonstrate that, while expanding management education ostensibly contravened elite interests, elite interaction in the field of power at a time of national urgency amplified elite influence, prefiguring their role as ‘influence elites’ today.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)191-215
Number of pages25
JournalAcademy of Management, Learning and Education
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023

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